The Public Interest Style Guide

Please follow this style guide when submitting articles or editing in additions to published articles.

 

Style guide for Submitted articles

Headlines

Make them unique and specific

Make them short. Headlines are as short as possible. The word ‘and’ is generally replaced by a comma.

Use Downstyle capitalisation.

The first paragraph

The first paragraph should summarize the article in around 56 words, using one to three sentences. This will not only be the opening to your story, but also the text shown on the link to your story (the story excerpt).

Try to answer the basic questions of who, what, where, when, why and how. Try to fit most of these into the first paragraph.

Don’t make your first paragraph a boring list of facts — it’s the first thing the reader sees, so make it interesting.

Every fact or issue mentioned in the first paragraph should be later backed up or expanded in the main body of the article. You needn’t explain everything fully in the intro, but what is mentioned should be fully explained before the reader finishes reading the article.

Article length

Most complete articles should have at least three paragraphs, and single-line paragraphs do not count for this purpose. Aim for between 500-800 words, although both less and more are acceptable. This is just a guide, not a rulebook.

Try to use the “inverted pyramid of news”, with the most newsworthy information at the beginning of the article, important details in the middle, and background information at the end.

Style guide and rules for Edits

Firstly, do not delete any of the existing story. Edits are additions to the news release.

Additions to the story should be no longer than 200 words, although again, this is guidance and not a rule.

You can place your edit anywhere in the news release, but you should ensure that it adheres to the spirit of the original release and it must be clear what is new material.

One way we have found works well is the use of “Blockquotes” for quotes directly from stakeholders. This provides a clearly visible block of text containing the response to the news release from your organisation. The technical details on how to do this can be found in the “How to use ThePublicInterest.info” section here.

An example of how this looks can be found in this story, with the original story being supplemented by “right to reply” responses in clearly visible block quotes.

Hotel booking sites to make major changes after CMA probe

General Rules

The site “Code of Practice” applies at all times and can be found here: